Cops take to air to track drugs

CANNABIS valued at $3.6 million has been seized in the first four days of the State Crime Command’s annual crop eradication operation across the Tweed-Byron region.

About 24 officers from Strike Force Farrelly, a joint operation between the NSW Drug Squad and Tweed- Byron Local Area Command, have seized 1800 plants since Monday, with police helicopter Polair 1 buzzing treetops and rooftops in an effort to detect and destroy illicit plantations.

The raids are timed to disrupt the upcoming harvest and reduce the quantity of cannabis ending up on the street.

Using some of the latest methods and technology available, strike force officers are acting on intelligence gathered from the community and the local knowledge of Tweed-Byron police.

The operation extends into state forests and national parks where officers are being winched into remote locations to destroy crops and gather evidence. It may be extended if major plantations are discovered.

Police suspect most of the plantations are linked to organised crime and have urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The raids have come under global scrutiny with international cannabis lobby website, International Cannagraphic, monitoring the raids.

Self-confessed potheads and ‘experts’ have questioned the quality of the haul, given the apparent absence of flowering buds, while others have questioned the exp- ense of the operation.

The NSW Drug Squad has seized 17,000 plants with an estimated street value of $52 million in similar operations in the past three months.

STRIKE FORCE FARRELLY

• Polair 1 chopper with special detection equipment and five crew.

• 14 officers from the State Crime Command’s elite drug squad.

• Six four-wheel-drive ground support vehicles.

• 10 officers from the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command.

• Drug sniffer dog squad

• Radio communications support officer.



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